On Auditory Experience as a Mechanism for Space Time Travel
I’m in the midst training for my first middle distance triathlon and, to be honest, it has me decently scared. This season has been a sort of time travel to the experience of training for my first marathon — the last time I was truly afraid of a physical feat to which I had voluntarily committed.
I signed up for these races because I savor the experience of truly not knowing whether or not my body can do something. A training block offers weeks and weeks of feeling out where the edge is, only to find it receding further and further from reach with strength gained and steps taken. It’s inevitably a period of growth, measurable in miles and perfectly punctuated by a finish line. The whole experience feels indelible, particularly in retrospect.
That first marathon was nearly a decade ago and it’s been fascinating to visit with the girl who was learning to run farther and farther each week. She was young and fearful, but she kept going. She was naive and at times a bit deft, but she kept going. She was young and she came close to quitting in so many way on so many days and yet she never did. I’m proud of her.
I’ve never been a Coldplay fan, specifically, but during that training season the band came through town and tickets were on special for just ten bucks, so I decided to go along with a group of friends. At the end, and for whatever reason, we were all given free CDs of Coldplay’s latest release. Every Saturday morning for five months, I’d drive to a local park to complete my longest run of the week. The run start was early — always too early. I was cranky and full of dread and the Coldplay CD was the path of least resistance for audio entertainment. To this day, anytime I hear Lovers in Japan, I smile at that season of life — at that girl.
Tonight I was cooking dinner and listening to a new Maggie Roger’s song on loop when it hit me that this would almost certainly become the song of this training season. I put down the knife and stopped and listened and got a bit wistful about when and where I might be when I hear this song a decade from now. What will I think of my current self? What might I say to her?
Of course, there’s no need to wait a decade and the identification of this season’s auditory touchstone was so halting that I reflected on my current selfhood, having been given the gift of momentary perspective and a brief understanding of the singularity of this moment and what I’m trying to accomplish.
We are changing, growing. We are in pursuit. But, we also are. Here. Now. Can you squint and see this person that you are? What do you have to say to her? There’s a specificity to this moment. There’s a singularity to yourself right now. Can you sense it?